The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Information Commissioner (IC) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), thereby establishing a framework for cooperation in relation to their overlapping powers and facilitating the sharing of intelligence.
The CMA is a non-ministerial department, established by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. Its role is to promote competition within and outside the UK for the benefit of consumers and to make markets work well for consumers, businesses and the economy generally. The IC is a corporation sole appointed by HM the Queen under the Data Protection Acts 1984 and 1998 to act as the UK's independent regulator promoting access to official information and protecting personal information.
Both bodies have significant consumer protection powers. The MoU provides that they will discuss and communicate regularly to discuss matters of mutual interest, consult one another on issues which have cross organisation interest, share draft documents (such as consultation papers and briefings) and share relevant information.
The sharing of information provisions are the most interesting. They envisage the bodies sharing confidential information with one another in order to facilitate the carrying out of any public function, subject to specified restrictions. Where the information relates to the affairs of a business or individual, it can be shared under permitted gateways. These include: disclosure is required to meet an EU law obligation; disclosure facilitates the exercise of statutory functions; disclosure is for the purposes of civil proceedings or for the taking of legal advice; or disclosure is required for criminal investigations.
This means that information secured, for example, by the IC in the context of a data investigation could end up in the hands of the CMA and potentially spark an antitrust investigation.
If you would like to discuss any of these issues, please do not hesitate to contact John Cassels at email@example.com